Spare Neurons - September 15, 2012

by Hal Bent,

Here is where you find the random thoughts, caffeine-fueled rants, "smacking the dashboard and screaming at radio hosts" diatribes, and bizarre observations that pop into my head and, while interesting, need an outlet: 
    • Not liking the off-season free-agents available for the Red Sox.  Is that good? Limiting spending?  Does Theo Epstein get his much needed bridge season a year after he gets forced out of the front office?
    • I think anyone who believes that signing John Lackey, Carl Crawford, Daisuke Matsuzaka, resigning Josh Beckett, and trading away the best prospects for Adrian Gonzalez were baseball, not marketing decisions, made by the front-office and specifically made by Theo Epstein shows a lack of perspective.  Theo had a plan that worked. The Larry Lucchino marketing machine needed a product, and correct me if I'm wrong, but a President has final say over a General Manager (just ask Ben Cherington about his field manager choices!).  This was a mess made by the Red Sox Business Operations, not the Baseball Operations.  With Lucchino still in charge, nothing is going to change for the better. 
    • I would not want to be a Cleveland Browns fan today.  Reminds me of the post-Chuck New England Patriots days of my youth. Or, even worse, the post-Super Bowl beat-down by the Bears bottoming out in the early 1990s before "Bill Parcells and Drew Bledsoe (and Robert Kraft) rode into town to rescue the franchise" squad. 
    • After victories over ManU and Aston Villa to open the Premiership season, before a depressing loss to the West Brom Baggies.  Add in Marouane Fellaini talking about checking out of town at the end of the season and an injury to midfielder Darron Gibson, the early momentum is grinding to a halt.  All of a sudden, Monday's match against Newcastle is a must win.  Teenager midfielder Ross Barkley was just loaned out to Sheffield in the Champ division, so now down two midfielders leaves the Toffees scrambling a bit.  Fortunately, the match is on ESPN2 here, and I will be able to get in a viewing on the DVR after getting home from work.
    • Not sure how the NHL owners can think a lock-out is a good idea while there is a real national television contract , high fan attention in Original Six markets, and television ratings (especially for the Winter Classic) at a high.  The last lock-out ended with the players taking a gut shot from the owners and the player's percentage of revenues cut "for the good of the sport". Now, the league has rebounded, and the owners want to take it to the players. again? Now?  Sorry, there is stupid, and there is REAL STUPID. The NHL owners have crossed the line.  Professional hockey barely recovered from the last lock-out, now is not the time to tempt fate again.
    • I am looking forward to the end of the Daisuke Matsuzaka era in Boston.  The failed experiment has finally ground to a merciful end in just a few short days. From all the promise of the bidding process, the scouting reports, the news crews following jets, the talk about the transition, the Boston Globe profiles on his interpreter, the spring training madness, the mania: it was a heady time in the those early days of Dice-K Mania.  Sadly, the experience did not bloom, but fizzled.  The pitch counts, the nibbling on the corners, the interminable length of time to throw so many pitches, the arm problem drama, the hurt feelings. So long, Dice-K, don't let the door hit you on the way back to Japan. 
  • MEDIA NOTES - The CSNNE Edition:
    • Talking about NESN (New England Sports Network) is akin to supporting the Red Sox Ownership Troika and Jeremy Jacob's locked-out Boston Bruins as they own the station.  Forget it, I'm going rebel with the competition.  
    • Really enjoying Comcast Sportsnet (CSNNE) trotting out three ex-players (Scott "Zo" Zolak, Jermaine "Wiggy" Wiggins, and Matt "NoNickname" Chatham on Patriots This Week.  Three ex-players who know the media game (Zo), personality (Wiggy), and have interesting insight (Matt Chatham--his knowledge and communication is impressive) helps with understanding the complex Patriots offense and defense goals and game plan that traditional media personalities/writers/bloggers can't match.  They break it down in an easy to understand manner and entertain.  It is hard to beat that combination. 
    • I like QuickSlants on CSNNE, although Tom E. Curran is a bit too buffoon.  It is obvious that staff writer/co-host/demeaning role as computer girl in tight shirt Mary Paoletti has more Patriots knowledge in her pinky finger than the ex-Projo writer Curran is able to express between pitching hair transplant surgery and flexing for the camera.   
    • Patriots Football Weekly with Fred Kirsch, Paul Perillo, and Andy Hart is a great, informative show, but the three of the co-host together have as much chemistry and charisma on screen as an old sneaker.  Perillo does well on his weekly Felger and Mazz radio show visit, and Andy Hart is informative as well when hopping on 98.5 the SportsHub on the radio, but all three still look scared of the camera on the show.  They're just not TV guys!
    • Thursday night's New England Tailgate is without doubt the worst of all the Patriots TV shows.  Big Show WEEIdiots Glenn Ordway, Fred Smerlas, and Steve DeOssie, between hawking their own products (which I refuse to mention here), play their usual roles much as they do on the radio.  Ordway plays disinterested know-it-all, Smerlas plays the over-the-top Patriot cheerleading clown, and DeOssie takes the contrarian "Parcells Always, Belichick Never!" role from the radio.  Nothing very interesting or relevant happens, but I never miss an episode because I am convinced one of these weeks one of their heads will just explode from forcing their considerable girth into television appropriate garb. 
    • At the end of the day, Uno's Sports Tonight and Sportsnet Central are the headliners. Gary "Tang-God" Tanguay and Michael Felger blather endlessly about the day's events, but mostly like to rile up the masses. Felger delights in tweaking the obsessive Boston sports masses (as he does on the CSNNE simulcast of his Felger and Mazz radio show each weekday afternoon), and Tanguay just has the best old-timey deep timbered voice of any in the local media. Sportsnet Central is the local highlights show, but has all the station's major players on at some point.   Overall, they do a good job covering the local sports scene.  They serve as the option beyond the NESN/WEEI monster that ran so long with no real competition and now runs scared with stations delivering content and opinion in town rather than team-controlled megaphones and cheap, manufactured opinions.